Good thing I don’t have to jump around much!

I’m always astounded at the sometimes complex criteria that people use to define what genre a game belongs in. Zelda, because the RPG elements are toned down, people consider the Zelda series to be mere Adventure games because there’s no presence of of your strength being based on visible stats. Castlevania games that have you exploring an overworld are considered “Metroidvania” while games like Grand Theft Auto are called “Sandboxes” for Amma knows what reason. The controversy over determining if Smash Bros. is a fighting game still rages on, just much more quietly. Metroid Prime is fought being an FPS or an “FPA”. In general, defining a game’s genre gets tiring.

See, the problem with gamers over the internet is that they’re obsessed with trying to define things, and while that’s basic human nature, gamers take it to an entirely new level of insanity. To define something is to easily identify and judge the quality of that something within the basis of a category. When it comes to movies, for example. We define martial arts films based on the obvious presence of choreographed fight scenes. For Action movies, gun fights and explosions along with big gruffy hyper-masculine male leads. We define romances based on how much pandering it does to female fantasies.

But then it gets a little weird when you start seeing “Romance-Comedy” “Action-Comedy” “Comedy-Drama” and all that jazz. Mainly, it’s the definition of an existing genre by simply combining it with another. If it’s advertised as an action movie with large amounts of comedy or romance, or has a hero that is not a John Wayne trope, it just “cannot” fit within the normal criteria and must be judged on a different level. In gaming, it’s the same thing, only more obnoxious. Action-Platformer, Puzzle-Shooter, Action-Adventure, Action-RPG, you get the idea. The problem is, unlike movies, there are so many games out there that have gameplay styles that aren’t so easily defined. You have the “Action” genre which could range from a shit load of different games including FPS’s and shmups.

There’s no real problem for this because if you’re into a certain type of a game, knowing how to define that game and differentiate that from the rest will help you in determining your next purchase. The problem is there are debates and fights started over the need to define the genre of a game.

That said, how in the hell do you define a platformer?

Don’t look at me! I have no idea!

Check this piece out. Knack is labeled as a platformer, and there is mention of “platforming” where you need to jump to different heights just to defeat enemies. However, the emphasis of the game is clearly centered around killing enemies to progress, meaning the platforming is only a means to an end. Not the point of the game. And for a majority of platformers, this is always the case.

What? I thought the point of this game was bustin caps!

See, most gaming genres are defined around the game’s emphasis. First Person Shooters are obviously emphasizing shooting every mutha fucka on the screen. Fighting games…. fighting. Puzzle games solving puzzles. Adventure games based on exploration and solving mysteries. However, for platforming games, there’s very little emphasis on actual platforming and more so about action (combat or otherwise).

Kirby would be considered a platformer, but considering the pink bastard can fly, there’s…. no real platforming going on.

Praise Amma they’re still making normal Kirby games, though.

If you’ve played any 2D game that involved a pint-size hero running, jumping, shooting or melee attacking enemies, chances are they’re labeled platformers. But do you really have fond memories of “platforming” in these games? Unless they piss you off, of course not. Your fond memories come from the action and thrill of combat. Taking on bosses and waves of enemies while evading traps and death pits. You KNOW what you’re getting into when you play an FPS, and your memories of that game will be based on that’s game’s emphasis as well as the content.

My memories of this game would be dat smexy sci-fi atmosphere!

You wouldn’t call most modern FPS’s “mission-based games” because you have to complete a certain amount of missions per level. That’s only a means to an end. The main idea is still blasting enemies over and over again.

In most cases, only Mario can truly ever be considered a platformer (at least the old 2D games, not this 3D puzzle fetch mess). Hell, the Classic Mega Man games could get away with that label considering all the bullshit Inafune and the gang pulled with those dissappearing blocks and what not. But otherwise, the mere fact that platformer is so often attached to another genre (action especially) is showing how truly difficult it is to define platformers. For all we know, the label is probably misused for a majority of games simply because there’s lots of “jumping” on stuff. It’s kinda like saying Metroid games are platformers because there’s lots of jumping on stuff.

It gets more obnoxious when people put games like Sonic under that category considering the severely lacking emphasis on platforming in virtually every game. I think the Sonic series had cursed every other game that comes out since Sonic was created in part to compete with Mario, thereby being labeled as a platformer… and every other game that comes out (like Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Ape Escape, what may have you) are directly placed in the platformer category by default. If that review of Knack is anything to go by, the platformer label is probably forced onto games that really don’t focus on the platforming at all. It’s misleading to gamers on a grand scale because gamers are obsessed with defining games as accurately as possible. So labeling something as a platformer will have gamers judging the game possibly based on a means to an end rather than it’s actual emphasis.

If the emphasis of Knack is in it’s combat and not it’s platforming, but it’s put under the “platformer” category, then you’re gonna have some pretty pissed off gamers because of that obsession to define games. Simply calling it an action game would be “too broad” but more accurate in it’s material.

This, along with the RPG category should be renamed or have reworked criteria for judging. Perhaps “jumper” because there’s lots of “jumping”. 😛

Fuck you, I’m trying the best I can.